Healthy Heart & Bones
Heart Health

Your heart beats one hundred thousand times a day and thirty-six million times a year. Close to two thousand gallons of blood pass through its chambers every day. It is a miraculous, remarkable pumping organ, ceaselessly circulating blood in an endless circuit through literally miles of veins and arteries throughout our lives.

And our heart is so much more than that! Scientists tell us that our heart more closely resembles the brain than a muscle, that it contains millions of neurons, and is in constant communication with the thinking brain. Our heart and brain appear to act in concert, with the heart functioning as the feeling part of our brain.

It is no secret that the midlife years bring a rise in the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and stroke for both men and women.

Heart disease claims one life every 34 seconds in the United States alone. Taking care of our hearts is critically important, if we want to live to be healthy, wise, and compassionate elders.

To ensure a healthy heart and minimize your risk of heart disease and stroke, pay special attention to nourishing this all-important organ throughout your midlife years and beyond.

Research has clearly demonstrated that expressing your full range of emotions is very important for heart health, and that holding our true feelings inside, not giving them expression, helps set the stage for heart disease.

Additionally, emotions such as grief, depression, and anxiety, when allowed to become chronic, are known to cause a constriction of the blood vessels, hindering the flow of blood. The pressure of blood in the arteries depends on both the force with which the heart contracts and the resistance that the blood meets as it passes through the small vessels in the body's tissues.

We want a nice, strong, rhythmic beating action of the heart, in combination with clear open passageways. The caliber of the arterioles and the rate and force of the heartbeat are constantly changing under the influence of the autonomic nervous system, which consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibers, and are also altered by hormones, especially adrenaline.

Learning to open our wild hearts, to connect with the physical earth, cultivating love and compassion for nature, people, plants and animals, touching and being touched, expressing joy and acceptance, all help keep our hearts well toned and functioning.

Consuming heart-healthy foods, especially fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, salmon and herring, and flax seed and hemp seed oils, helps protect us against heart disease and stroke.

Other foods and beverages that bring a host of benefits to the heart include herbal meads and fermented beverages in moderation, green tea, nuts and seeds rich in essential fatty acids, oatmeal, seaweeds, antioxidant-rich blueberries and other anthocyanidin-rich fruits, such as bilberry, blackberry, elderberries and grapes, foods rich in carotenes like carrots and sweet potatoes, and potassium-rich foods such as bananas, apples and potatoes.

Some of my favorite herbs for nourishing and toning the heart include motherwort, dandelion, oatstraw, ginkgo, rosemary, angelica, ginseng, ginger, rose, nettles, hawthorn, elderberry, garlic, lemon balm, red clover, and willow.

In addition, maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise will also go a long way toward keeping your heart hale and robust well into old age.

Hawthorn Berry Syrup

you'll find heart nourishing herbal tinctures made with the above listed herbs on this page

HEALTHY BONES - Bone health is vitally important throughout our lives. Beginning with our development in the womb, throughout early childhood and active youth, and all during our childbearing years, midlife changes and elder years, we must offer plenty of nourishment to our bones. We depend on our bones for their support. We are thankful for the structure they bring to our lives.

We are intended to grow, develop and maintain bones strong enough to take hundreds of pounds of pressure, yet be flexible enough to twist and turn without breaking, throughout our lives.

All of the 206 bones in our bodies are in a constant state of construction, deconstruction, and repair. In the course of one year, 20% of our adult bone mass is recycled as our bones continually break down and renew themselves.

Our bones are also the major storage facility for such minerals as calcium and magnesium. If we lose more minerals than we take in, we begin to lose bone mass. Pay special attention to nourishing your bones, your cartilage, your skeletal system, so it can carry you, with strength and health, to the work you must do in this lifetime.

Worried about your bones getting brittle? Getting a hunchback, or broken hip, without hormone replacement therapy? Care of the bones during midlife is especially important because as estrogen levels drop, women's risk of osteoporosis rises. Likewise, as testosterone levels drop, men become increasingly at risk for this bone weakening disease.

With the findings of the Women’s Health Initiative, a study that included over 6,000 menopausal women, HRT, once touted as a panacea, is now implicated as a major cause of aggressive breast and uterine cancers, heart disease, gallbladder disease, blood clots and stroke. Although the hormone replacement did appear to offer some protection against bone loss, this benefit did not outweigh the serious risks for most women. Health building, bone strengthening, time-tested, nourishing herbs are healthy alternatives.

An excellent way to nourish our bones, no matter what our age, or stage of life, is to drink daily infusions of such calcium-rich herbs as oatstraw, nettles, red raspberry, peppermint and red clover.

Add any one of these highly nourishing, mineral-rich herbs to your daily diet and stand back! Your bones, teeth, hair and nails will be strong and beautiful, and your nerves like steel. You need not fear osteoporosis. You can count on these mineral-rich herbs to be your bone-building allies. They will help to create, maintain and preserve your bone health, strength, and flexibility, even rebuilding and remodeling it, if necessary, should you suffer a break or fracture. Regular use of these bone building herbs will nourish and sustain the robustness and pliability of the skeletal frame from childhood well into old age.

Balance & Well Being Herb Tea

above listed calcium-rich bulk dried herbs

These five common, abundant and nourishing herbs can be used on a daily basis with no risk of injury, but do stay away from red clover if you are on a blood thinning medication.

Side effects may include more energy, better focus and concentration, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increased emotional balance, fertility, and increased health and tone to the heart, nervous system and adrenals.

All of these herbs are either easily grown or easily found in the wild. Try throwing some oat seeds into a little patch of soil, or even a pot, and watch the magic as it grows. Start a patch of nettles if you have an out-of-the-way space, so you can savor the taste of fresh nettle greens in spring. Or plant a patch of peppermint, either by seed, or from a transplanted clump dug from a friends garden. Red raspberry bushes can be found growing abundantly at the edges of fields and woods in Maine, and sweet red clover blossoms are abundant in fields everywhere. Of course, you will have to ask permission of the land owner, and consult a guide book, or ask an experienced friend to help you, if you’re unsure of sustainable gathering methods, identification, and harvesting times.

Making an Herbal Infusion
To make a standard infusion of any of these herbs, take a small handful of dried herb and place it in a ceramic pot or glass canning jar. Cover with a quart of boiling water, stir briskly, cover tightly and let sit for 2-4 hours, or even overnight. Strain and drink 2-4 cups daily. You can reheat the infusion if you prefer to drink it hot, but never boil it.

Calcium-rich Dandelion
Another of my favorite ways to obtain the abundant calcium, magnesium and other minerals necessary for strong, healthy bones is to make and consume dandelion vinegar. As soon as the ground can be dug in the spring, we dig up some dandelion roots and fill several jars with the roots and leaves. Then we pour room temperature apple cider vinegar over the roots to the rim of the jar, cover it, and place it in a cupboard for at least six weeks. After straining, we use this vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, and sprinkled over our cooked greens all summer. It is not only delicious, but each tablespoon contains over 175 mg. of calcium alone! We do the same thing again in the fall, after a frost or two, so we have plenty of calcium-rich dandelion vinegar for the winter months.

Other substances that nourish the bones include such fish as sardines, salmon, and oysters, milk, cheese, and yogurt, burdock roots, dark wild greens, spinach, bok choy, kale, broccoli, seaweeds such as hijiki and wakame, nuts and seeds, especially sesame seeds and almonds, and green tea.

Plenty of sunshine (helps the body convert fats into vitamin D, essential for bone health), fresh air, and exercise all promote strong, healthy bones. Doing any weight-bearing exercise regularly, such as walking, gardening, snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding, dancing, yoga, hiking, or tennis, may be the most important thing we can do to maintain bone health into our elder years. Eliminating tobacco, and moderating alcohol, caffeine, and salt intake are also important for bone health.

Those at risk for osteoporosis include fair-skinned people with blue eyes, blonde or red hair, those who are either very thin or very tall, smokers, and couch-potatoes or the hyperactive. You are also at risk if you consume more than 25g of alcohol daily, suffer longstanding depression, consume inadequate nutrients, especially minerals, had a premature menopause or premature graying of the hair, take diuretics or steroids regularly, or suffer from a thyroid disorder or diabetes.

Bone growth can be stimulated by passing a weak electrical charge through the bone. To help heal a fracture or broken bone, or to increase bone mass, try wearing a magnet on or around the area.

Herbal poultices are very effective. Try applying a poultice of comfrey leaves, or any of the herbs mentioned above, to the area you are trying to mend. Hands-on healing such as Reiki or Polarity, and acupuncture, also generate weak electrical charges.

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